Asian Markets Mixed as China-U.S. Trade Dispute Continues to Boil

Aug 06, 2018

Asian stocks were mixed in morning trade on Monday. Trade concerns remained in focus after China announced another set of tariffs on U.S. goods while Chinese state media continued to accuse the Trump administration over their recent trade policies.

The latest criticism from the state-owned People's Daily newspaper accused U.S. President Donald Trump and said he was starring in his own "street fighter-style deceitful drama of extortion and intimidation".

The newspaper added that Trump's plan to force others to play along with his drama is "wishful thinking", arguing that the U.S. had escalated trade friction with China and turned international trade into a "zero-sum game".

"Governing a country is not like doing business," the paper said, adding that Trump's actions imperiled the national credibility of the United States.

The Shanghai Composite and the SZSE Component traded 0.7% and 1.3% lower by 1:45AM ET (05:45 GMT), after opening higher in the morning sessions. The Chinese yuan received some focus after the People’s Bank of China said on Friday that it would impose a 20% reserve requirement on some trading of foreign-exchange forward contracts, effectively making it more expensive to short the yuan.

China said on Friday that it would impose tariffs, ranging from 5% to 35%, on $60 billion in U.S. goods that include many agriculture-related goods if the U.S. proceeded with placing more tariffs on Chinese imports.

The warnings came after U.S. President Donald Trump urged U.S. Trade Representative to consider raising the proposed tariffs on Chinese goods to 25% from the initial 10% earlier this month.

Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said in an interview with Bloomberg over the weekend that Trump would keep adding pressure to China.

“We’ve said many times: no tariffs, no tariff barriers, no subsidies. We want to see trade reforms. China is not delivering, OK?,” Kudlow said on Friday. “Their economy’s weak, their currency is weak, people are leaving the country. Don’t underestimate President Trump’s determination to follow through.”

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index rose 0.5%. Tencent Holdings (HKG:0700) climbed 1.26% following news that Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is in discussion with the Chinese internet giant, best known for its ubiquitous WeChat messenger and successful WeChat Pay systems, to offer its cloud services in China.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.03%. Index heavyweights Fanuc Corp. (T:6954) climbed 1.2% while Fast Retailing Co., Ltd. (T:9983) rebounded from its daily low and traded 0.6% higher. South Korea’s KOSPI gained 0.5%.

Down under, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.5%, with the materials subindex leading gains. BHP Billiton Ltd (AX:BHP) (LON:BLT) was up 2.2% and Rio Tinto Ltd (AX:RIO) (LON:RIO) advanced 1.4%.

Looking ahead, China is set to release its July trade figures on Wednesday. Analysts expect the country’s trade surplus to narrow to $39.1 billion in July from $41.6 billion. In addition, China will publish a report on foreign exchange reserves on Tuesday, followed by data on consumer and factory inflation figures on Thursday.